It’s officially cuffing season also known as “Netflix and Chill”. The cooler weather entices a great date night consisting of making a big crockpot of sweet potato chili, fresh-baked sweet potato cornbread, with red wine on deck and a marathon of the latest movies. Before long, the “Netflix” session quickly advances to the “Chill” session that’s likely to lead to exciting bedroom adventures. sex
But before you get too excited visualizing this scenario, let’s face some ice-cold facts, pun intended about keeping your sex life guilt-free. As of 2018, the CDC estimates nearly 2.4 million Americans, that’s one percent of the adult population, are living with hepatitis C.
Some refer to the virus as “HCV”. The opioid crisis has contributed to a drastic rise that is not reflected in this number. There’s more, half of the people with hepatitis C may not know they’re infected. Let me go on record to say, safe sex is the best sex.
Although Hepatitis C is contagious, the risk of transmitting hepatitis C during any sexual activity, including oral sex, is low. Hep C spreads when blood containing the virus enters another person’s bloodstream, like when sharing needles, for example. According to the CDC, hepatitis C does not spread through kissing since the virus does not pass through saliva, coughing, sneezing, sharing food or water, sharing utensils, or hugging.
Still, risks are involved if you’re living with the virus that you should take note of to make sure you’re taking care of both you and your partner’s sexual health. We’re giving you six guilt-free ways to enjoy cuffing season.
1. Protect Yourself.
Self-love is the best love – PeriodT. This should go unsaid, but we’ve got to say it! Even though the risk to pass hep C from sexual activity is low, if there is a break in the skin of both partners and the passing of blood, with no protection involved, such as a condom or dental dam, then the chances of passing hep C or contracting it goes up (unprotected period sex included) as hep C can be present in menstrual blood.
2. Be Selfish…
With your personal care items (razors, blades, toothbrushes, grooming clippers or any instrument that could draw blood). Cracked bleeding lips, bleeding gums, canker sores/cold sores, flare-ups with genital warts or herpes and throat infections could put you at high risk if not 100% risk of passing or contracting hep C. No need to explain yourself. There’s simply, no need to share.
3. Be Gentle.
But if you like it rough, wrap it up. Rough vaginal sex can cause small tears around the opening of the vagina that can transmit the virus. Anal sex can cause small tears around the opening of the anus. These tears can bleed and allow the virus to spread during unprotected sex so again, be selfish and protect yourself.
4. Be Selfish, again.
Keep your sex toys to yourself. If you use your sex toys during anal sex or during menstruation, you should not share your toys with your partners.
And if you have a partner that insists for personal reasons, don’t give in to peer pressure.
5. Be Transparent.
Communication is the key to relational success. If you’ve tested positive for hep C, let your partner(s) know.
They deserve to make informed decisions and you deserve to live guilt-free.
The more open and honest you are, the better for the relationship.
6. Treat yourself.
If you’re single and mingling, treat yourself to regular visits to check your STI status.
You’ll be saving yourself and others with this mindset.
This advice is for all of us. If you’re managing a contagious chronic illness, this is to put your mind at ease as we’re all enjoying cuddling a bit more with the cooler temperatures.